If you'd hoped to make a trip to the Apostle Islands ice caves this winter, we've got some bad news.
A blazing January and start to February (by Minnesota standards) has left Lake Superior mostly free of ice. That means access to the caves from the Wisconsin coast has been cut off.
On Friday, the Apostle National Islands Lakeshore announced on its Facebook page: "Not to burst anyone's bubble, but ice caves are looking unlikely this year."
Aside from a cold snap during December, temperatures in the north have been well above average for this time of year.
The forecast for the next week is for more warmth too, with temperatures hitting the mid to high 40s by the weekend in Bayfield, the access point for the islands, according to Weather.com.
Any hopes for another deep freeze that could see access to the ice caves reinstated were dealt a blow on Thursday when the National Weather Service declared La Nina – which was supposed to bring a colder winter – had ended and temperatures in the Pacific Ocean had returned to normal.
MPR News reports the mild winter on the Wisconsin coast of Lake Superior has enabled the Island Queen, the ferry between Bayfield and La Pointe on Madeline Island, to continue making trips where in previous years they would have stopped because of ice cover.
When the ferries can't run, the town of 250 permanent residents is connected to the mainland via an ice road, but in four out of the last 18 winters – including this year – the ice hasn't been thick enough to support the road, MPR News notes.